It's been one of those days when the words are many, yet not enough. Because what can you possibly say about such horror? Nothing really.
I've wept for the parents, siblings, children, spouses, friends and families of those who were so violently taken from this earth at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I've realized - yet again - how grateful I am to raise my children in a city and country where gun violence is rare, where no one that I know feels like they need to wear a sidearm to keep themselves safe.
I've discussed how we need to be incredibly careful not to further stigmatize those with mental illness and focus on getting them the help they and their families so desperately need.
I've been infuriated by the fact that to some people the right to own an assault rifle is apparently more important than the right for our children to be safe.
I've reflected on whether I am the mother my children need every day, just in case it turns out to be their last. I've wondered if they would know how much I tried to keep them out of harm's way. I have resolved to be more patient, less distracted, and always thankful.
I'm sure that in the days and weeks to come, much pontificating will be done. People will try - and fail - to explain how such a tragedy could occur. It's in our nature to want answers; we want to find distinctions so we can tell ourselves how this tragedy could never happen to us. I think why Newtown has hit so many people so hard is because those distinctions aren't easily there. But in this case I don't believe that it's necessary to know "why" in order to ensure that the future will be different.
The day of the Newtown tragedy, my sister emailed me a video of children acting out the Christmas story. It showed young boys and girls pretending to be Mary, Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men, sheep, cows and the Christmas star. Of course, a chubby baby had the feature role of Jesus. The fact that the massacre at Sandy Hook has taken place during this season of peace and goodwill has only added to the scope of the tragedy.
Whether or not you believe any or all of the Story of the Nativity - that Mary was a Virgin, or that Jesus is God, or even whether there is a God at all - the true story of Christmas is something much more simple than fantastical; it is, at its heart, a story about the birth of a baby and the promise that life holds.
This is true for all children, and I have no doubt that is why the deaths of these first-graders are particularly heartbreaking. The promise of these 12 girls and eight boys will go unfulfilled and we will never know what the true measure of their impact on the world would have been. (Though it should be said that the administrators and teachers who also lost their lives still had much left to offer this world.)
We can, however, build upon their legacy. Each generation we raise carries with it the possibility that our tomorrows will be brighter, and the hope that they will be able to fix our mistakes. If more of us start teaching our children to live the tenets of this holiday season year round - charity, love, humility, peace and kindness - then perhaps fewer of them will feel that violence is the answer. We also must not forget that the best teaching comes from example. Instead of letting fear paralyze us, we can all try to leave this world better than we found it. Eventually, our numbers will be greater than those of the naysayers and the cynics. Eventually, we will not need strict gun control laws because it will be unfathomable that anyone would ever use them against another person.
Do Unto Others as You Would Have Done Unto You.
Should be simple enough, right? But as we're busy raising those children, we also need to pressure our political leaders to emulate those values we are trying to instill in our children in the laws they pass and in the policies they promote.
And maybe, just maybe, someday we'll get there.
Because if the choice is between raising my children with hope or raising them with fear, I know what I choose.
Will you do the same?